Andhra police kill three youths involved in acid attack (Lead)

December 13th, 2008 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Dec 13 (IANS) Police in Andhra Pradesh gunned down three youths late Friday night, a few hours after they were arrested for throwing acid on two girls, one of whom is battling for life. The state government has sought a report on the matter.The youths were killed near Warangal town, about 150 km from here. Police said they opened fire in self-defence.

While the families of the girls hailed the police action, human rights groups have termed it as “murders in cold blood” and demanded action against the policemen involved.

Home Minister K. Jana Reddy told reporters that he has sought a detailed report on the incident from Director General of Police S.S.P. Yadav. “We don’t know the circumstances in which the encounter took place. We will wait for the report before taking any further action,” he said.

The accused, who had been taken to the place to gather evidence, allegedly tried to attack the policemen with a country-made weapon and the acid they had buried in the isolated location, an official said.

S. Srinivas Rao, 25, the main accused, and his associates P. Harikrishna, 24, and B. Sanjay, 22, were killed in the alleged gunbattle.

The incident took place at Mamonoor on the outskirts of Warangal town a few hours after the three were arrested for throwing acid on two women engineering students.

They threw acid on Swapnika and Pranitha, both students of the Kakatiya Institute of Technology in Warangal town, when they were returning home from the college Wednesday.

Swapnika, who had spurned Srinivas’ love, suffered serious burn injuries and is battling for life in a hospital in Hyderabad.

The attack on the girls had sent shock waves across the state and pressure mounted on the government from women’s organisations to arrest and punish the culprits.

Warangal Superintendent of Police V.C. Sajannar told reporters that a police team had taken the accused to the place where they had hidden the stolen motorbike and acid bottle used in the attack.

“They suddenly took out a country-made weapon and tried to open fire and also threw acid on policemen. The police opened fire in self-defence, killing all the three accused,” he said.

The police official said the incident took place between 10.30 p.m. and 11.00 p.m. However, the media was informed only Saturday morning. The bodies of the three youths were lying in the bushes. Police also recovered two knives from the scene.

The police official claimed that they acted within the law. “The law has taken its own course,” was all he said when asked to respond to the criticism of police action by rights groups.

The accused were arrested Friday evening and Sajannar had presented them before the media, claiming that the police achieved the breakthrough within 48 hours. The trio had admitted to having committed the crime.

Sajannar said Srinivas had confessed during interrogation that he bore a grudge against Swapnika as she refused to reciprocate his love and was seeing another boy. He planned the attack with two friends to disfigure Swapnika so that no one would be attracted to her.

Swapnika’s family members said they were relieved that the accused had been killed. They, however, demanded police security fearing revenge attacks by the families of the accused.

Pranitha’s mother Subhashini said they had got justice. “This will save many other girls who could have become their target,” she said.

The families of the accused, however, alleged that they were murdered by the police. Human rights activists have raised doubts about the police claim that the accused were killed in a gun battle.

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